According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the number of stolen dogs has increased significantly since 2008.
While the AKC is only able to track thefts using media reports and information provided by its membership, they recorded 71 thefts in 2008, 162 in 2009, and 212 in 2010. These figures represent an almost 300 percent increase in stolen dogs over a short two year period.
According to Lisa Peterson, the AKC's director of communications, the primary reason thieves steal dogs is for fast cash resale in a down economy. Sales of dogs over the Internet have created much greater opportunity for stolen dogs to be sold.
Peterson says the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day and Mother's Day seem busiest for stolen pets: "You have these two holidays where giving a cute little puppy or dog as a gift might be endearing, but the dog may be stolen," she said.
Dogs are taken from backyards, and in some cases, thieves are breaking into homes and taking them.
Having a beloved pet stolen is much more traumatic than losing material possessions to thieves. Just ask Jenna Plumb, who lost her 2 year-old Cockapoo to a thief who broke into her apartment:
"It was extremely violating," said Plumb, a graduate student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. "Just to have like a living thing taken from you … that's what made it really personal for me."